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Back Into Central Adelaide

6th May 2009

Rose and I specifically planned another trip into central Adelaide to see a free exhibition called Picturing Words at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Artspace Gallery.

Prior to visiting the exhibition we made a stop into the Festival Centre's Cafe where I snapped this photo (on the right) of an almost deserted table area. We were having a fairly late lunch so had to go with pretty much what was readily available. I had a piece of Quiche, that looked more like a slice of cake it was so big, along with a bit of cucumber and lettuce salad topped with some kind of savory sauce dressing that I couldn't quite determine the flavor of.

The Picturing Words exhibition was described on the festival centre's web site as follows (because I'm too lazy to write this up and you'll understand more why I was a little disappointed later on):

Picturing Words

Artist's Perspectives on writing and illustrating picture books

Program developed with the DECS education officer based at the Adelaide Festival Centre

A visual exhibition of original children’s picture book illustrations showing creative stages that lead to the finished works of art now enjoyed in print. The exhibition of preliminary artworks, reference materials and storyboards are largely drawn from the Dromkeen Children's Literature Collection, with additional, original sketches and final illustrations supplied by the artists.

Picturing Words will feature self-guided storytelling 'stages' for featured books. The illustration processes for ten well-known children's books are from:

Ali the Bold Heart by Jane Jolly, Illustrator: Elise Hurst

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard; Midsummer Knight, Illustrator: Gregory Rogers

Home, Written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver

Kestrel by Mark Svendsen, Illustrators: Steven Woolman & Laura Peterson

Maise Moo and Invisible Lucy, Written and illustrated by Chris McKimmie

The Man from Snowy River by A B Paterson, Illustrator: Freya Blackwood

A Pet for Mrs Arbuckle by Gwenda Smyth, Illustrator: Ann James

A True Person, Written and illustrated by Jacqui Grantford

The Wolf by Margaret Barbalet, Illustrator: Jane Tanner


Sounds really interesting doesn't it? Especially if you're someone like me who is constantly told that you should illustrate children's books, or someone like Rose who has written a children's book that she's hoping I'll illustrate some day.

When we entered the gallery we were greeted by the attendant who told us that the exhibition was really targeted at children, to help them learn about how children's books are made, but we were welcome to look around. Right away I knew this wasn't going to be as good as I had hoped.

Looking around at the various sample pages of work in progress to finished artwork displays you did get some insight into each artist's process but not anywhere near as much as I would have liked. Just little snippets of explanation from the artist but nothing too in depth.

No doubt, if you were a child on a school excursion to this exhibition you'd have a much more interactive time participating in the range of activities that were available. All designed to encourage learning and to get kids more involved with the creative process. As an adult and a professional artist it was a little 'light' for me but then it wasn't an exhibition aimed at people of my age or experience.

Still, it was an interesting exhibition and any time I get to see the work behind the finished art is always a joy to see. Sometimes people seem to think us artists just create all our pictures straight from our heads with no preliminary thought, sketches, roughs or mistakes along the way. Sometimes we do but most of the time not.

For the rest of our time in Adelaide Rose and I didn't have any specific plans so we just kind of wandered around the shopping precinct.

Knowing that Rose is interested in art I remembered this rather large garden themed sculpture that you can find on King William Street just north of the west end of Rundle Mall. The photos don't show you all of it - there is a giant peg, beach ball, bone and fish skeleton as well - but to give you some sense of scale the tap you can see in the background (with the garden hose attached) is easily eight to nine feet tall (at a guess).

The thong (that's flip flop to my American readers) in the second photo is big enough for a couple of people to sit in and still have room.

Despite this sculpture having many plaques with little garden friendly messages on them I couldn't find one that gave me any information about the artist or the title of the artwork as a whole. All I could find was a plaque that said This Playspace was commissioned in 2006 by the Adelaide City Council and that it was officially opened in December of 2007.

We finished up our second Adelaide trip with a wander through Adelaide Arcade shopping mall. This is one of those shopping malls that every city has that you really must take some time to visit. It combines a real sense of history with a selection of specialty shops ideal for those who like to shop somewhere other than their local variety superstore. Rose and I browsed through the Arcade's stairwell history museum before heading back to the railway station and making our way home.

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